During periods of close collaboration, championed by figures like John Ruskin and William Morris, architecture and craft were referred to as "the allied arts." By the mid-twentieth century, however, it was more common for the two disciplines to be considered distinct professional fields, with architecture having little to do with studio craft.
The Allied Arts investigates the history of the complex relationship between craft and architecture by examining the intersection of these two areas in Canadian public buildings. Sandra Alfoldy explains the challenges facing the development of the field of public craft and documents the largely ignored public craft commissions of the post-war era in Canada. The book highlights the global concerns of material, scale, form, ornament, and identity shared by architects and craftspeople. It also examines the ways in which the allied arts are mediated by institutions and the fragility of craft commissions once considered an integral part of the built environment.
Considering a wide range of craftspeople, materials, and forms - from the ceramics of Jack Sures and Jordi Bonnet to the textile work of Mariette Rousseau Vermette and Carole Sabiston - Alfoldy celebrates the successes of architectural craftsmanship. The first work of its kind, The Allied Arts develops ideas about the complex relationship between architecture and craft that reach well beyond national boundaries.
"Well researched, comprehensive, and impeccably documented, The Allied Arts recovers the history of public craft commissions and the contexts - both aesthetic and cultural - that have led to their dismissal and neglect in the history of art, within the art world, and amongst the general public." Elissa Auther, Department of Visual and Performing Arts, University of Colorado